Chemotherapy for the Republic

If you’re like me, you know someone—a friend, a loved one, perhaps you yourself—who has battled cancer. Nasty stuff.

Cancer is insidious. It starts with a few rogue cells, grows silently, and if allowed, metastasizes until all the body’s resources are sucked into feeding its voracious growth.

It’s the supreme betrayal, turning the body’s own genetic identity and defense mechanisms against themselves. Left unchecked, it kills the organism that gave it birth and hosted it.

Cancer, unfortunately, is not limited to people or animals. Cancer can even strike the body politic. Left unchecked, it metastasizes there as well, and it can be equally fatal.

Prevention of cancer is desirable but not always possible. In the day-to-day process of life, the dynamics of cells reproducing and of the immune system repelling infections, cancer can quietly pervert and twist the body’s normal functioning toward a new end. That’s why treating cancer can be nearly as nasty as the disease itself.

Treatment usually starts with surgery. If the cancer is localized, surgery may suffice. Remove the offending tumor, prescribe a course of antibiotics to ensure no secondary infection from the operation, and all may be well. Surgery is an assault on the body, but it’s a localized, one time event. Afterward, the patient’s immune system and natural healing processes kick in to restore health and vigor.

Sadly, surgery isn’t always enough. If the cancerous insurrection has begun to spread, radiation may be required. With radiation, doctors expose a region of the body to high energy that neutralizes the offensive cells buried deep within vital organs. But radiation cannot distinguish. It repeatedly stresses healthy cells, too. It requires a delicate balance and rest between each session over an extended course of treatment. But if the cancer has not spread beyond one region of the body, it can suffice to kill off the offending cells and prevent their further spread.

And if it has spread? Then oncologists resort to chemotherapy—noxious poisons that kill cancerous cells a bit more easily than healthy ones.

Sometimes a cancer patient needs all three treatments. Surgery to remove obvious tumors, the high-profile, confident, and visible clusters of cancer cells. Radiation next to kill those quietly gathering strength in a region of the body. And then chemotherapy to prevent the cancer from taking hold elsewhere.

Even so, there’s never a guarantee that treatment will be successful. Sometimes the body is so compromised it can’t endure radiation or chemo for very long. Even when the patient does survive, it can take a long time to recover vitality. And vigilance is required to ensure the body remains cancer-free going forward.

What does all this have to do with the body politic, with the Republic in which we notionally live in 2019? Everything.

To my friends who wonder how a decent, educated woman could support a crude, narcissistic reality TV show host and erstwhile pro-wrestling figure like Donald Trump as president, I answer that it’s simple.

Trump’s supporters believe, with good reason, that a metastasizing cancer has perverted the core mechanisms of our Republic, of our social and political and economic systems. We’re at the point where only the full spectrum of treatment has a hope of restoring health and vitality.

And Donald Trump is the necessary chemotherapy.

When Senate confirmation hearings, ostensibly held for the sober consideration of the qualifications of judicial nominees, are intentionally subverted by a senior senator who opens the door at the last minute to weeks of increasingly poisonous personal attack and calumny against a nominee like Brett Kavanaugh, with no evidence to support them, cancer has already perverted the genetic identity and immune mechanisms of our constitutional Republic.

When the corporate leftist media manipulates the news into narratives, sending selectively edited video clips viral and falsely assigning not only blame for a public encounter but even motives such as racism to a young teen such as Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann—all for having the temerity to stand his ground in the face of a strange man chanting in his face, it’s clear the cancer is not localized in one building or place but has metastasized culturally across the country.

When bureaucrats embedded in massive administrative agencies wield unchecked regulatory power with no electoral accountability, designating temporary snow melt ponds as national waterways in a bid to control western ranches, metastasis is on display.

When the core mechanisms of the country’s national security apparatus are deployed for petty partisan advantage, the cancer’s aggressive growth eats away at the very foundation of representative government.

And when high officials not only enrich themselves through thinly disguised foundation donations from foreign donors seeking favors within the Beltway, but also are allowed to destroy evidence in a criminal investigation with impunity, the cancer has progressed to life-threatening severity.

It will take the full range of treatments to battle this disease.

Surgery in the form of pruning back regulatory overreach—a process that is already underway, despite major resistance from the self-styled “progressive” left. Surgery too in the form of prosecution, conviction, and imprisonment of those who can be identified as committing discrete crimes.

Radiation in the form of investigations such as the three now happening within the Department of Justice today. We also need declassification of government records and public scrutiny of what is uncovered, unpleasant though all of it may be.

Fighting this cancer will require the American public to step up, to take seriously what is at stake here. It will require scrutiny not only of the heinous FISA abuse that occupies our concern at the moment, and the unwarranted unmasking of U.S. citizens’ communications that contributed to the abuse, but also of refamiliarizing ourselves with the side deals involved in the Obama/Iran nuclear deal and their implications for our national well-being. We must look once again at the aborted and distorted matter of Hillary’s private email server containing raw intel material compromised by a foreign power. And much more.

And it will require a continued course of chemotherapy.

It has taken crude, ego-filled tweets to push back effectively on a corporate leftist media that is acting as the public-relations arm of one political party. We need those tweets and rally appearances that are filled with insulting nicknames for opponents, boastful claims, and yet honest appreciation for the core identity of this nation at its best to push back on an elite class that thrives at the cost of the nation’s communities and families outside of their privileged enclaves.

It seems we need a thrice-married philanderer to bring forward one of the most dignified, gracious, multilingual and multicultural first ladies in recent memory to the White House.

He is also a businessman who negotiated high-profile deals in multiple countries to take on the self-enriching nexus between foreign companies and governments like China, on the one hand, and American officials and their families like the Bidens and Dianne Feinstein and her husband, on the other.

After the 2016 election, a small businessman involved in real estate told me he had voted for Trump precisely because he figured that, as someone who had dealt with corrupt local officials, rapacious banks, and labyrinthine legal frameworks, Trump might have a chance of successfully taking on the Beltway crowd.


Cancer treatment can be touch and go. When the cancer is aggressive and threatening metastasis, the treatment itself can drive patients to near collapse. Nausea sets in, making even simple meals hard to ingest and keep down. Radiation and chemotherapy threaten healthy cells. I know one young man whose white blood cell count dropped to a grand total of one, nearly wiping out his immune system, before the voracious cancer cells were finally killed off.

Today that now-older man is a successful professional, husband, father, and member of his community.

The battle against cancer can be won. But it will take firm determination, the full spectrum of treatments, and intentional commitment to rebuilding health if our Republic is to survive the disease now consuming it.

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About Robin Burk

Robin Burk started her career wearing bell bottom jeans in the basement of the Pentagon, where she had the challenging privilege of interacting with computing legend Grace Hopper, and in Silicon Valley, where she wrote one of the first commercially deployed Internet protocol software stacks. The remainder of her first career half was spent in roles through senior executive in small and mid-sized tech companies serving defense and national security customers in the US and abroad. After the attacks of 9/11 Robin taught in two departments at the U.S. Military Academy (West Point). Returning to the Beltway area, she grew a fledgling research grant program in the new discipline of complex network systems at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, center of U.S. counterWMD expertise, then led a team that addressed national security and commercial applications at a major R&D organization. Today her passion is helping organizations and individuals make the best responses to disruptive tech-driven change. Along the way she picked up a PhD in artificial intelligence and some DOD civilian medals. She is currently being trained by a young English Cocker Spaniel whose canine appreciation for social compacts rivals that of Confucius and his followers.